Fellow 2019/2020

Reem Shilleh

Researcher, curator, editor, and artist Reem Shilleh’s practice is informed by a long research project on militant and revolutionary image practices in Palestine, its diaspora, and solidarity network. Some of her recent projects are the curated film program The Space Between: The Invocation, MMAG Foundation, Amman, 2019; the research exhibition series Desires into Fossils: Monuments Without a State, Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center, Ramallah, 2017; and the curated film collage, commissioned by A. M. Qattan Foundation Perpetual Recurrences, Qalandiya International, Ramallah, 2016. She is also Co-Founder of Subversive Film, a curatorial and research collective formed in 2011 that casts new light upon historic works related to Palestine and the region; engenders support for film preservation; and investigates archival practices and effects. Shilleh lives and works in Brussels and Ramallah.

Fellowship Research Trajectory

Reem Shilleh’s research expands a notion of an imperfect archive: an archive that has no place, body, or definition but instead is a practice. The material it is concerned with does not follow a linear narrative, but has many forms and is collective activity. Dealing with questions and concerns arising through her work as part of Subversive Film, Shilleh works with filmic material that was produced within the context of the Palestinian revolution (1968–1982), in response to a settler colonial reality of Palestine, and through militant filmmaking by Palestinian, Arab, and international filmmakers, photographers, writers, and more. These films have fallen into the cracks of institutional and collective memory, and “disappeared” from official narratives that define histories of cinema. Here, the imperfect archive serves as a proposition to question nationalism and statehood as the defining parameters for collective and shared memory, and to instead aspire toward an imperfect (as in non-uniform, anti-formal) memory; a collective memory. Shilleh’s practice of an imperfect archive questions the redistribution of this material and is careful about how they translate today considering that their forms, methodologies, and cinematic languages are specific to their ideological contexts and the movements of which they were part. Shilleh also is concerned with taking the archival films as fluid material for producing contemporary work, answering contemporary concerns, and by doing this deconstructing the concept of an archive as an institution both concrete and virtual that is regulated and governed by rules and structures.